The Brodsky Quartet / Martin Roscoe

Elgar: String Quartet; Piano Quintet

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Edward Elgar's String Quartet in E minor, Op. 83, and Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 84, together with the Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 82, written at about the same time, are rarely played. They were written after Elgar fled London during World War I, and they reflect a certain unease which can be difficult for performers to pin down. These two chamber works are, however, unabashedly lyrical; the influence on Elgar here comes more from Tchaikovsky than from Wagner. Sample the Piacevole, the second movement of the String Quartet, memorably characterized by Elgar's wife (at whose funeral it was played) as "captured sunshine." The Brodsky Quartet takes this remarkable movement at an unusually slow tempo, revealing its emotional depth, but not sinking into the lugubrious. The Piano Quintet is a broader work, but here too the Brodsky finds an inward quality, with pianist Martin Roscoe doing uncannily well in the passages where the piano seems to hover slightly eerily in the background. Chandos does fabulous engineering work at Potton Hall, a space likely quite similar to the one for which Elgar imagined the work as he was composing it. Highly recommended.

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